Piers Plowman and the New Anticlericalism

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2007-12-03
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
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Supplemental Materials

What is included with this book?


The medieval English poem Piers Plowman is noted for its attacks on the clergy. The later fourteenth century, when the poem was written, is often thought of as an anticlerical age. Yet this is the first book on fourteenth-century English anticlericalism, and the first extended investigation of the anticlericalism of the poem. Dr Scase challenges the usual assumption that long-established anticlerical traditions continued unchanged in the conflicts of this period. She describes and analyses important but little-known medieval polemics and satires (many of them only available in manuscript), tracing the emergence of a distinctive 'new anticlericalism' which entailed nothing less than the making of a new anticlerical literature. With the writing of Piers Plowman, she argues, this literary challenge was accepted. Always referring closely to the contemporary controversies, and with constant attention to the detail of the text, she reveals the significance of the poem's anticlericalism. Informative and rigorously argued, this book is intended to convince literary critics and historians alike.

Table of Contents

Note on quotations and references
List of abbreviations
Introduction: tradition and the new anticlericalism
The usurpation of priestly power and the transformation of an antifraternal satire
Poverty: an old controversy and a new polemic
Charity: the ground of anticlericalism
Antireligious traditions and a new satire in the C-text
Clerical dominion and authority in new anticlerical literature
General index
Index of Piers Plowman citations
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

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